|Publication number||US5714933 A|
|Application number||US 08/584,021|
|Publication date||Feb 3, 1998|
|Filing date||Jan 11, 1996|
|Priority date||Jan 10, 1995|
|Also published as||DE69508221D1, DE69508221T2, EP0722157A1, EP0722157B1|
|Publication number||08584021, 584021, US 5714933 A, US 5714933A, US-A-5714933, US5714933 A, US5714933A|
|Inventors||Maurice G. Le Van Suu|
|Original Assignee||Sgs-Thomson Microelectronics S.A.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (8), Non-Patent Citations (1), Referenced by (38), Classifications (13), Legal Events (4)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
1. Field of the Invention
The invention relates to a system for protection of goods against theft.
2. Discussion of the Related Art
At present, there are two types of systems for protection of goods.
Standard electronic alarm systems, designed for the protection of premises, provide indirect protection for the goods located on these premises. These systems are based on the detection, by various means (such as window-opening contact detectors, volumetric sensors, laser sensors, infrared sensors etc.), of intrusion by unauthorized persons into these premises. The term "premises" must be understood in a broad sense. It could be applied to a house, a building with offices, a car, etc. These systems are inefficient against the theft of goods, located in premises, by persons authorized to be in these premises. Thus, for example, they cannot prevent the employees of a firm from pilfering, during working hours, goods owned by the firm, for example goods such as computers, telephones, etc.
There also exist devices for direct protection of goods against theft. In general, these are mechanical protective devices. For example, the goods to be protected are chained to a shelf. The goods could also be kept in strong boxes or cupboards under lock and key. This means that it is impossible to have them at hand. There also exist passive electronic systems based on the labelling of goods with magnetic labels. These systems are more especially used in big stores. These labels prompt alarms when they are subjected to a magnetic field. In practice, this means that people have to be required to pass through checking gates.
It is an aim of the invention to provide an active system for direct protection of goods against theft. The term "active system" is understood to mean a system wherein the goods to be protected are fitted out with means capable of taking the initiative to communicate within an information broadcasting system in order to report any anomaly after detection.
Thus, the invention provides a system for protection of goods against theft comprising a control unit and protection modules associated with the goods, the control unit comprising cordless communications means and the protection modules comprising means for the detection of movement to find out if the goods are being handled, and means of cordless communication to send an alarm message to the control unit if a movement is detected.
Other advantages and particular features shall emerge from the following detailed description of an exemplary embodiment of the invention, given by way of an indication that in no way restricts the scope of the invention and made with reference to the appended drawings of which:
FIG. 1 shows a schematic drawing of a protection system made according to the invention; and
FIG. 2 gives a schematic view of a module for the protection of goods according to the system illustrated in FIG. 1.
The system shown in FIG. 1 comprises:
a control unit 1;
goods 2a, 2b, 2c;
protection modules 3a, 3b, 3c respectively associated with the goods 2a, 2b, 2c; and
a fixed communications medium 4 to which the control unit 1 and the goods are connected so that the control unit 1 and the goods can communicate with each other. The term "fixed medium" is understood to mean a medium to which the control unit 1 and the goods are physically connected.
The goods 2a, 2b, 2c will be, for example, electrical appliances such as television sets, radios, computers, hi-fi systems, etc. They could also be, for example, furniture, works of art, etc. The protection modules 3a, 3b, 3c take the form, for example, of electronic cards fitted into the goods to be protected.
Advantageously, the electrical power distribution system will be used as a fixed communications medium 4. Communications between the control unit 1 and the protection modules 3a, 3b and 3c will be done by means of carrier current in the form of exchanges of binary messages, each piece of goods connected to the medium 4 being characterized by a particular address. It is also possible to use communications lines, for example a twisted pair, dedicated to the system, that are different from the electrical power distribution system. This would have the disadvantage of making it necessary to set up such lines and would therefore entail additional costs of manufacture, installation and maintenance.
The control unit 1 will be typically fitted out with a microprocessor, means of communication through the fixed medium 4, cordless communications means, for example by RF, and a user interface comprising, for example, a keyboard and a screen to enable the user to program the working of the system. The control system shall not be described in greater detail as it should not raise any particular problems of construction for technicians familiar with home automation systems.
The protection module 3a illustrated in FIG. 2 described by way of an example, comprises:
information processing means, for example a microcontroller 5, to manage the function of protecting the piece of goods;
communication means 6 for communication through the fixed medium 4 or modem, connected firstly to the microcontroller 5 and secondly to the fixed communications medium 4 to enable the transmission of information elements from the module 3a to the control unit 1 and the reception of information elements or commands coming from the control unit 1 to the module 3a by means of the fixed communications medium 4;
cordless communication means 7, for example by RF, connected to the microcontroller 5 to enable the transmission of information elements from the module 3a to the control unit 1 and the reception of information elements or commands coming from the control unit 1 to the module 3a, by means of radiofrequencies;
independent supply means 8 connected to the microcontroller 5 to supply said microcontroller if the piece of goods 2a, and therefore the protection module 3a, is disconnected from the electrical power distribution system; and
movement detection means 9 connected to the microcontroller 5 to produce an information element on movement in the form of a digital message when a movement of the piece of goods is detected, this information element on movement being given to the microcontroller 5.
The composition of these different elements shall not be described in greater detail, it being understood that they entail no problems of construction for those skilled in the art.
The independent supply means 8 include, for example, a back-up battery rechargeable through the mains and consequently connected to the electrical supply circuit of the item.
The movement detection means 9 comprise, for example, one or more of the following devices:
mercury switch mechanism;
As regards its operation, the system will work, for example, in the way described below.
If the movement detection means 9 of the module 3a detect a movement of the piece of goods 2a, they send a message to the controller 5 of the protection module 3a. This message could include simply a change of logic level of a signal, this signal being received by an interrupt input of the microcontroller 5. The microcontroller 5 then sends an alarm message to the control unit 1 through the RF communication means 7. The microcontroller 5 could also send the alarm message simultaneously through the fixed medium 4. This message includes the address of the transmitter, namely the reference of the piece of goods 2a fitted out with the module 3a which sends the message, and the address of the destination, namely the reference of the control unit 1.
After reception of the alarm message, the control unit 1 sends a message by RF channels to the protection module of the piece of goods from which this alarm message comes. This message sent by the control unit 1 is a message asking for a confirmation of the alarm message through the fixed communication medium 4.
If the protection module associated with this piece of goods is not disconnected from the fixed communication medium 4, it may send a message confirming the alarm message by carrier current through this medium 4. The confirmation message could be the initial alarm message in a form that is of course suited to the medium 4. Since this medium 4 is fixed, it may be assumed that the piece of goods is not being stolen. Theft is possible only if the piece of goods is disconnected from the fixed communication medium 4. For greater security, it may be planned that the protection module will send the confirmation message back a certain number of times through the fixed communication medium 4.
If the protection module associated with the article is disconnected from the medium 4, the control unit 1 will never receive the confirmation message by carrier current. It could, if necessary, after a certain fixed or programmable period of time, request a confirmation of the alarm message by RF channels.
In both cases, the control unit 1 may still receive an alarm confirmation message before activating an alarm procedure. This alarm procedure includes, for example, sending a message through a telephone line 11 to a police station and/or in setting off a siren 12.
In order to enable goods to be handled without having to deactivate the entire system, an interface 10 may be provided at each protected piece of goods to deactivate the protection module of this piece of goods. The term "deactivated module" is understood to mean a module that does not send any alarm message if the piece of goods with which it is associated is shifted. This interface will comprise, for example, a keyboard enabling the protection module to be turned on or off. It could also be a lock or a chip card reader. It is also possible to provide for the deactivation of the protection modules individually, from the control unit.
It is also possible to provide for deactivating the entire system through the interface using the control unit 1.
It is also possible to make provision in the system, alternately or in conjunction with the RF communication, for infrared communication. In this case, the system will have one or more communication modules 13 in the vicinity of the goods to be protected. In one exemplary embodiment, the protection modules 3a, 3b and 3c will be provided with infrared communication means, typically laser diodes. The communication module 13 will be provided with an infrared receiver and an interface to communicate by means of the fixed medium 4. From an operational point of view, if one of the goods coming out of the reception field of the communications module 13 (namely the link between the module for the protection of the piece of goods and the infrared receiver of the communications module 13) is interrupted, the latter will send an alarm message to the control unit through the fixed medium 4.
Having thus described at least one illustrative embodiment of the invention, various alterations, modifications, and improvements will readily occur to those skilled in the art. Such alterations, modifications, and improvements are intended to be within the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the foregoing description is by way of example only and is not intended as limiting. The invention is limited only as defined in the following claims and the equivalents thereto.
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|U.S. Classification||340/568.1, 340/669, 340/689, 340/538, 340/539.1, 340/531|
|International Classification||G08B21/00, G08B25/10, G08B13/14, G08B21/24, G08B13/00|
|Apr 8, 1996||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: SGS-THOMSON MICROELECTRONICS S.A., FRANCE
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:LE VAN SUU, MAURICE G.;REEL/FRAME:007931/0436
Effective date: 19960307
|Jul 19, 2001||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Jul 7, 2005||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8
|Jul 28, 2009||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 12